There was a lot of good news in Tuesday's release of Indiana Statewide Testing for Education Progress Plus, or ISTEP+, testing.
Students' test scores were up across the board year-to-year, though some of the gains were small, the Indiana Department of Education said.
Seventy-one percent of Indiana students passed both the English and math portions of the test this past school year, up 1 percent from the previous year and an 8 percent increase from the 2008-2009 school year.
"Hoosiers from all walks of life should greet this news with a standing ovation," said Tony Bennett, state superintendent of public instruction, in a news release. "Thanks to the efforts of Indiana's great teachers, we're successfully educating a new generation of leaders and innovators who will build a more prosperous future for our state."
Not everyone shared the Bennett's unmixed joy.
Democrats for Education Reform applauded the general improvement, but said that some schools, especially in the largest districts, still have pass rates below 50 percent.
They said Indiana still falls short of the goal of giving every child the opportunity for a quality education.
More than 80 percent of students were proficient in at least one of four subjects in the annual test. The math part of the test was passed by 81 percent of students, up 2 percent from the previous year.
Scores were also up on the science section of the exam, with 71 percent passing, and the social studies portion, with a 69 percent passage rate. Eighty-five schools had 90 percent or more of their students pass the English and math portions of the test, 10 more than the previous year.
Bennett saluted several individual schools that dramatically improved their performances.
One is Francis Parker Montessori School, an Indianapolis Public School where 95 percent of the kids are on free or reduced-price lunches.
Francis Parker teachers give a variety of reasons for the improved scores, including expansion of the Read-Up program, which uses volunteers for 30 minutes three days a week to work individually with students.
"And it's one-on-one," said teacher Beth Yates, about the Read-Up program. "And the kids love it, because they just crave that attention."
At Parker, even the custodians kick in, said teacher Barbara Cole.
"The custodial staff, when they saw children in the hall, always had something positive to say to them," Cole said.
The scores of low-income students improved across the board, with 59 percent of that segment passing both the English and math parts of the test.
There were similar gains in all areas for Hispanic and black students.
The test is given each spring to about 500,000 students in grades 3 through 8.
Updated ISTEP Results
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